Don’t Delay – Get That Flu Shot!

Posted on 10/13/2017

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Get a flu shot as soon as it’s available.

Influenza– the flu – is a highly contagious infection that spreads easily from person to person, mainly when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Older adults are at high risk of getting the flu. That’s because your immune system weakens with age.

Viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs cause flu. It can be life threatening to older adults, particularly those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart, lung, or kidney diseases.

Flu viruses change all the time. Last year’s shot will not protect you from this year’s flu. The flu shot is updated every year to include the most current flu virus strains.

There are two kinds available, so ask your GuildNet Care Manager whether the regular vaccine or the high-dose vaccine designed specifically for people over age 65 is the best choice for you.

While you’re at it, talk to your Care Manager about getting a pneumonia vaccine. Most people over age 65 need to be vaccinated only once, but your doctor may recommend a periodic booster shot.

Simple activities such as frequently washing your hands can help you stay healthy.

Facts about the Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.
Flu vaccines are made from either inactive flu viruses that cannot transmit the virus or made with no viruses at all, so you will not get the flu from a vaccine.

What is the Influenza Vaccine?
Influenza is a contagious disease and it easily spreads from person to person. Getting a “flu shot” – an influenza vaccination – slows the spread of the flu and helps protect your family and friends. The virus that causes the “flu” changes every year, so the vaccine changes every year and it is therefore important that you get a flu shot every year.

The vaccine is highly effective in preventing the flu, but if vaccinated persons do catch it, they are less likely to become seriously ill or die from it.

Who should get a “flu shot”?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a yearly flu vaccine. However, it is especially important for individuals aged 65 years and older and people with chronic health conditions to get the flu vaccine as these groups are at higher risk for complications.

If you have a cold or are seriously ill, then you should wait until you are well before having a vaccination. (Check with your doctor if you are unsure.) The vaccines are very safe. There may be soreness at the site of the shot, but serious problems are rare.

Are you allergic to eggs?
If you are allergic to eggs you should speak to your medical provider about getting the flu vaccine which is made without egg.

When should I get my “flu shot”?
The best time is October through December, though you can get a vaccination throughout the season. It will take about two weeks after you get the shot to develop protection against the flu. Any protection is better than no protection.

What about “swine flu”?
It is most important for children, young adults and health care providers to get the
H1N1 – swine flu – vaccine. The H1N1 Influenza Hotline for the Public is 1-800- 808-1987. The hotline is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Why should I get the Pneumonia Vaccine?
Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria or viruses and it is easier to catch when the lungs have been weakened by having had the flu. It is easier to catch if a person already has a long term or chronic illness.

The pneumonia vaccine is effective in preventing the most serious complications of pneumonia. It is a safe vaccine, though there may be soreness at the site. The vaccine can be given at any time of the year and is a one-time vaccine unless your doctor indicates differently.

Where can I get flu and pneumonia vaccinations?
• Primary care physician.
GuildNet can arrange transportation to and from the doctor’s office.
Local pharmacies, such as CVS, Duane Reade, Rite-Aid and Walgreen’s may offer flu and pneumonia vaccinations in your neighborhood.
• In New York City, you may call 311 to find out more about the flu and where flu clinics will be held.
• Your Nurse Case Manager will help you to locate a site.

How do I pay for my vaccinations?
• Bring your Medicare Card with you. If you have Medicare Part B, there is no charge.
• Medicaid is not accepted as payment for flu vaccines at the pharmacies.
• People who are 50 years and older can get free flu vaccinations at select senior centers.

Take action!
Lighthouse Guild provides a full spectrum of vision and healthcare services helping people who are blind or visually impaired. If you are a member of GuildNet, talk with your Care Manager, who can help you schedule an appointment for a flu shot, about the services available to you in the community.